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I was diagnosed in 1992 with AS. At the time, I was on compensation from work for pulling my groin. The physical therapist I had to help me back into working shape commented on the way I walked. It was from her that I first heard of Ankylosing Spondylitis. She had told me to request blood work from my family doctor, testing for HLA-B27. Of course my doctor scoffed at me, stating that it was an expensive and unnecessary test. Well, I pressured the doc, and finally he gave in. When the results came in, in his words, I was slightly positive. SLIGHTLY!!?? He referred me to the first of several lousy rheumatologists. The therapists thought on my having AS proved true. She also believes that the motorcycle accident I had in 1986 triggered the inflammation process.

The first rheumy put me on a meagre dose of indocid, 25mg twice a day, me at 240 lbs at the time! By the time I found a decent family doctor at a walk-in clinic, most of the damage was already done. I was fused near completely. This doc sent me to a great rheumatologist who immediately upped my indocid to 75mg sr twice a day. Finally some relief!

In April 1994, I had what was thought to be an appendix attack, and had surgery to remove it. The post op meeting with doc was strange to say the least. He commented on how ?messy? it was, yet the appendix was not as inflamed as he had suspected. Did it raise questions? Apparently it did not. By July 1994, I had what appeared to be some sort of growth at the drain site of previous operation. Upon entering the exam area of a different hospital, the surgeon wasted no time in opening the lump with a scalpel. What came out blew us both away. Infection is an understatement! The amount of pus that drained out over a two-week period was incredible. I was scheduled for surgery a.s.a.p. The diagnosis was Crohns, with me having 8 inches of perforated bowel to be resected.

This has been my life, trying to come to terms with two ugly diseases dx?d so close together, yet are related to each other. It was in 1994 that I met my present family doctor, and my future wife. A bittersweet time for sure. Although my AS had slowed, I had to give up certain things such as playing hockey, as one bad hit or fall could spell the end for me. Life was different, but went on almost normal from there.

The only blip in 1996 was my first time going anaemic and needing hospitalization to get a heavy infusion of iron.

In 1997, I started a new career in June, buying my own big rig and trekking on the open road. I also married Donna in October. We purchased our first house and took possession in November. I also met my chiropractor, the person who has helped me to keep straight and walking tall. Life was getting better.

In 1999, I had a fall out with my rheumy, and found a new one through my family doc. She is the one who put me on Vioxx, 25mg twice a day. I also started Losec. It was also 1999 when I went anaemic for the second time and was admitted to hospital for a blood infusion.

Fast forward to August 2000, when for some reason I cannot explain, I sold my rig to become an employee once again. By September, things were going relatively smooth when my life was turned upside down. September 12th, I awoke at three a.m. in incredible pain, doubled over in agony. Donna rushed me to the hospital, where almost immediately they diagnosed a bowel blockage. I had a nasal gastric tube inserted to remove the excess gas and pressure from my gut for fifteen hours. With no relief in sight, they preformed emergency surgery (resection) that night. Well??.. that was the start of my nightmare that I am living today. I spent 70 days in hospital, between September and December. The reason? My bowel never sealed after the resection, and poured into my gut causing all kinds of abscesses and infection. I was referred to Mt. Sinai in Toronto, and met with the country?s top IBD surgeon. Further surgery in April 2001 fixed the bowel, but the extent of the infection necessitat!
ed the removal of a lot of tissue. My incision would never close.
By January 2002, a hernia had developed in my incision, requiring further surgery. April 2002, I had surgery to repair the hernia with a ?whack? of gortex mesh used. Of course, if it can go wrong with me, it will! My incision was closed when I was released from hospital, but three weeks later it ?popped? open to a 15 cm by 6 cm open wound. As I write this story in June of 2002, I am still awaiting my wounds closure.

It is frustrating to say the least, but the worst part is that while in hospital, I was not allowed any anti-inflammatories, and my AS screamed at me daily. I have never been one for exercise, but I have no choice now, either I exercise and try to regain some flexion, or I will slowly crumble. I have broke out my inline skates, bought a new bike, and have been working hard in the yard. I haven?t felt this positive in a very long time.

Life will get better?? some day soon, it will, I just know it.

Stay tuned for part two????.. Doug

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